Hell's Traces

One Murder, Two Families, Thirty-Five Holocaust Memorials by Victor Ripp

  • Published: Aug 07, 2020

In July 1942, the French police in Paris, acting for the German military government, arrested Victor Ripps three-year-old cousin, Alexandre. Two months later, the boy was killed in Auschwitz. In Hells Traces, Ripp examines this act through the prism of... read more

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Details of Hell's Traces

Exact title of the book
Hell's Traces
Book author
Victor Ripp
ISBN
9780374713638
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published
Mar 21, 2017
Language
English
Format
PDF, FB2, EPUB, MOBI
Pages
224
File size (in PDF)
2016 kB

Some brief overview of book

In July 1942, the French police in Paris, acting for the German military government, arrested Victor Ripps three-year-old cousin, Alexandre. Two months later, the boy was killed in Auschwitz. In Hells Traces, Ripp examines this act through the prism of family history.

In addition to Alexandre, ten members of Ripps family on his fathers side died in the Holocaust. His mothers side of the family, numbering thirty people, was in Berlin when Hitler came to power. Without exception they escaped the Final Solution.

Hells Traces tells the story of the two families divergent paths. To spark the past to life, he embarks on a journey to visit Holocaust memorials throughout Europe. "Could a stone pillar or a bronze plaque or whatever else constitutes a memorial," he asks, "cause events that took place more than seven decades ago to appear vivid?" A memorial in Warsaw that includes a boxcar like the ones that carried Jews to Auschwitz compels Ripp to contemplate the horror of Alexandres transport to his death.

One in Berlin that invokes the anti-Jewish laws of the 1930s allows him to better understand how his mothers family escaped the Nazis. In Paris he stumbles across a playground dedicated to the memory of the French children who were deported, Alexandre among them. Ultimately, Ripp sees thirty-five memorials in six countries.

He encounters the artists who designed the memorials, historians who recall the events that are memorialized, and survivors with their own stories to tell. Resolutely unsentimental, Hells Traces is structured like a travelogue in which each destination enables a reckoning with the past.

About author

Ripp is the author of Moscow to Main Street, Pizza in Pushkin Square, and Turgenevs Russia. His fiction has appeared in Ontario Review and Antioch Review. He has taught at Cornell University and the University of Virginia.

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